Submission and Obedience


Back in the day, I had an aunt, my mother's older sister, who was lots of fun! She also loved to iron. Aunt Nettie used to say, "If you iron a rag, you cam make it look rich!" And iron she did!

Way back when, we didn't have perma-press fabrics or most of the synthetics we have today. We had cotton and wool. Fabrics were pretty and well-made, but most were cotton. Cotton wrinkles. It hangs fairly limply unless it's treated with something. It looks rumpled and shabby when it's been worn only a short while. So, on laundry day which usually was Monday, Mother took all the cotton garments after they had been washed and she starched them. She took out a blue and white box of Argo starch in which were big white lumps and put some of them into a deep pan. Then she poured boiling water over the starch lumps to dissolve them, and used a wooden spoon to stir and stir it until it was a rather thick clear consistency. If it was too thick, she thinned it with more hot water until it was just right.

One by one she took blouses, shirts, dresses and handkerchiefs -- all made with cotton -- and soused them in that starch solution, then wrung them out well. They went into her wicker clothes basket with all the other wet laundry to be hung out on the clothes line in the back yard. She preferred using slotted wooden clothes pins that she had to push down on the garment to secure it to the rope clothes line. (The other style of clothes pin was a pinch design with a spring in it.)

When the clothes were dry, all were brought into the house again. She carefully folded the sheets and towels, underwear and other articles. The starched items went on the table for further attention.

Mother filled a sprinkling bottle with water. It could have been a gadget made especially for laundry, but often she used a glass soda bottle (we didn't have aluminum cans for our soda) and pushed a sprinkler cap into the neck of the bottle she had already filled with water. One by one she laid out the starched clothes and lightly, evenly sprinkled water on them, carefully rolled them like jelly rolls and wrapped all of them together in a thick Turkish towel for the refrigerator.

Tuesday was ironing day. I was desperate to learn how to iron! Our electric iron was large and heavy. It had a dial with heat settings from low to high, but high was for linen and cotton and got very hot! Set a little lower, I learned to iron by doing flat pieces like pillow cases, cloth diapers (we didn't have disposable diapers until many years later), and kitchen towels. Down the road a bit, I also did bed sheets. After all, they were made of fine smooth cotton, too!

Finally the day came when Mother let me iron my first blouse or dress. I was probably ten or eleven years old and very proud! Out came the Turkish towel where my dress was evenly moist, ready for the hot iron. In order not to have more wrinkles in the finished garment that when I began, I had to follow a prescribed method of ironing. First, I did the underside of the collar, then the right side; next, the under facings of the placket opening down the front. Then I did the placket on the right sides. Next came the yoke or shoulders of the dress. Then came the sleeves, cuffs first, then the arm length. We had a miniature ironing board that folded up for storage. It was the sleeve board and on it we funneled the sleeve to be ironed and worked our way around the sleeve until it was completely pressed -- without wrinkles, if possible! Finally, we did the rest of the blouse and skirt of the dress on the large ironing board.

The trick to ironing a starched garment was to iron fast enough to not let it get dry before it was ironed completely. Yet, as you ironed, you had to get the fabric completely dry so it didn't wilt from still being damp. Worse yet, if you let the iron sit a moment too long in one place, the fabric scorched or turned brown. If it was a light scorch, a damp cloth rubbed over the area might remove the scorch and you could redeem the project. If not, the garment went back into the laundry for another washing that hopefully removed the scorch!

Mother's first steam iron was a smaller version of an Army tank ... or so it seemed! It was huge and held a lot of water, but also weighed a ton! Because it was so unwieldy, I was in junior high school before I was able to use it, but it was a real step up in the chore of ironing. We still had to sprinkle starched clothes before ironing them, but the steam iron helped get out the wrinkles before the cloth got too dry.

I recall well that Mother got her first clothes dryer when my kid brother was born and she had all his diapers to hang on the wash line besides the other laundry. That dryer was called a Hamilton Sun-E-Day and was a huge metal cube that to my eyes looked like an enormous white box in the laundry room. It sure saved my mother a lot of work. No longer did she have to go out on winter days in freezing cold to hang wet clothes on the line with her bare hands, bring them back into the house frozen stiff, and wait until they warmed up and finished drying before she could deal with them. No wonder ironing day wasn't until Tuesday!

Finally, along came the synthetic fabrics ... orlon, nylon, polyester! Steam and dry irons were combined into one much smaller and easier to use appliance. So, too, came smaller clothes dryers and automatic washing machines ... and on and on the modern inventions continued to make laundry day easier.

Now I am an old woman. I look back fondly at former days and recollect the chores and processes for how we did our work ... I wouldn't go back there for anything! I'm perfectly satisfied to toss my laundry into the automatic front-loader, move the washed clothes into the matching dryer next to it, hang the dried garments on hangers and put them on the next day never having handled starch, a sprinkler bottle, or an iron the whole time! Yahoo!!!

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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®
© Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.
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